How Close Can A Driveway Be To A Property Line? (Find Out Now!)
Not having a driveway or having one that is too small to fit your needs, can be frustrating and limiting. Not only do you have little to no space to park, but it can also make accessing certain parts of the property a difficulty.
That is why having a driveway installed or having your current one widened can make sense. But there are property lines to consider. If you are considering having a driveway installed or widened, you need to leave at least 5 feet setback on either side. Of course, each municipality has its own zoning laws that dictate just how close you can pave your driveway. The quickest solution is to call the zoning department of your town and find out what their regulations are.
How Close a Driveway Can Be to a Property Line
The answer is not a simple one and it can depend on where you live. For driveways, there usually needs to be a 5-foot setback from the neighboring property line. The other side will fall on your property, meaning that you can set it to the width that you want without worrying about encroaching elsewhere. And in some areas, you can pave right up to the property line with no questions asked.
Depending on the area in which you live, you may need one or both of the following. A permit might be required since it has to do with property lines; calling your town hall’s building department should provide that answer. You may also have to ask permission from the neighbor if you plan on paving close enough to their property line. And in some municipalities, you may need to provide both.
What About Other Structures and Property Lines?
Driveways are relatively straightforward. That said, if you plan to build near a neighboring property line, the proverbial lines can become far more blurry. It depends partially on what you plan on building. It also depends on what potential building codes may be in place.
While driveways have a potential 5-foot setback, building a structure requires so much more. Building codes need to be met, permits acquired, and a survey performed. The survey will ensure that construction can be done without potentially hitting any utility lines or causing another sort of disturbance.
Getting a Land Survey is Important
Before you consider making any changes, be it paving, widening your driveway, or putting up some sort of new structure, it helps to know the property lines. To know what the property lines are, you need to have a professional land survey done.
Having a professional land survey done will clearly define where your property lines are. Furthermore, it will prevent any potential headaches from occurring. When it comes to encroachment especially, you want to make sure that you have all of your bases covered.
What Happens When a Driveway is on a Neighboring Property Line
Perhaps you have already done the work or it is already started. You may not have considered the consequences, but you are dealing with what is known as encroachment. Encroachment is the legal term for when you or your neighbor build onto the neighboring property.
Some people don’t mind a slight encroachment. Others may take it as a huge issue. It really all depends on the neighbor. When the neighbor does care about the encroachment issue, it has the potential to become a big issue, one that causes neighbors to fight.
What to do About Encroachment
Whether you are the one encroaching or it is the neighbor, there are a few ways that you can handle the potential issue. The goal should be to find an amicable resolution as tensions between neighbors can create an uncomfortable situation for everyone.
The first thing that you can do is the land survey if you have not had it done already. The land survey will answer beyond a shadow of a doubt who is encroaching on who. If one party wants the other to move their driveway, then a land survey will have to be conducted to prove that there is an issue in the first place.
Any dispute has the potential for resolution by simply talking it out. More often than not, if the issue is presented in a cordial way, both parties can come to some sort of agreement. This should be the preferred course of action to a dispute.
When one party is encroaching on the other, it does not necessarily have to mean that party moves. It could mean a fee for using that space. It may also mean that the neighbor being encroached on sells that strip of land. There are solutions to be had.
Third Party Mediation
Of course, there are far too many instances where two parties cannot get along and come to a resolution. At this point, the only course of action would be to take it up with a third party mediation. Mediation is a great way to settle the dispute without bringing in expensive attorneys.
For parties who want to keep the relationship from dissolving and save a few dollars in the dispute, mediation offers the best course.
Understand Local Encroachment Laws
If you want to expand your driveway and think you may be encroaching on neighboring property, do your homework first. Know what the local property encroachment laws are and consider what solutions you may offer to the neighbor.
A lawsuit should be a last resort. They are not only extremely expensive, but they can drag out for months before a resolution is made. Property can be a sore topic for some but with a little communication, a lot can be done.
The key is to make sure that you think things out and don’t just act. Taking the time to plan out your driveway’s paving gives you the chance to foresee any potholes that may lay ahead. Because it is better to plan for how to handle property line issues than to figure out what to do after violating them.
Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.
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